Veteran actor Lee Tien-chu has created an uproar in Taiwan for remarks he made at last evening’s 51st Golden Bell Awards, the island’s equivalent to the Emmy Awards.
Taking the stage after being named the Best Actor in a Miniseries or Television Film, the 59-year-old praised other nominees in the category for being “excellent”, but that “God chose me to be here today for a purpose, and maybe he wanted me to say a few words.” He then went on to recite the Lord’s Prayer in his acceptance speech, saying this was for the “people that live on this land”.
The awkwardness that was palpable on live television did not end there. Backstage at a doorstop interview after the awards ceremony, more jaws were waiting to be dropped.
The actor, who shot to fame in mainland China playing a eunuch in the 2011 hit series Empresses in the Palace, revealed he had originally had no plans to return to Taiwan. He changed his mind, he says, when he heard the audible voice of the Holy Spirit asking him, “What if I want you to take the stage and say a few words on my behalf?”
Convinced that the Second Coming of Christ was drawing nearer because society was all messed up “from the government all the way down”, Lee told reporters that he was preparing for the day by praying non-stop, and by being very careful about not participating in television productions that he felt did not square up with his values.
Asked to furnish an example, Lee said, “I’ll just put it out here, I do not support homosexuality because it will lead to the destruction of humanity. I don’t hate gay people, I love them, I have compassion for them, but I have to say this is wrong.”
“This is why I have said no to the many gay productions that came to seek me out. I will not be a spokesperson for the gay community. ” he added. “I will not betray my faith just for a bit of money. Homosexuality is a curse to our future generations.”
The reaction to Lee’s anti-gay diatribe came fast and furious. Renowned graphic designer Aaron Nieh wrote on his Facebook page, “You may be a very good actor and win awards, but you’re just acting. You don’t have a part in other people’s reality, their nature, their love and their values in life… Homosexuality will not lead to the destruction of mankind, but ignorance will.”
“I don’t have much to say except good luck to all the people who think like you. I, for my part, think that the destruction of mankind will have to do with man’s pride and greed,” wrote singer Aaron Yan. “It has always been the fate of gay people to be oppressed by a straight majority and to live on the margins of society. You can disagree with homosexuality, but stop oppressing them in the name of religion and on the media!”
A similar uproar erupted five years ago when mainland Chinese actress Lü Liping, winner of the Best Actress Award at the 2010 Golden Horse Awards, lamented the legalisation of same-sex marriage in New York on Weibo.
Her remarks led the organisers of the Golden Horse Awards (金马奖) to rescind their invitation to her to the 2011 awards, breaking with a 48-year tradition.
National broadcaster CCTV later slammed the actress for her homophobic remarks, and assured members of the LGBT community of their place in society.